Herb Profile: Elderberry—Nature's Flu Shot
There was a reason why old-timers sang the praises of elderberry wine beyond the obvious one. That wine contained a potent antiviral ingredient?the herb elderberry?which studies now show is a natural warrior against colds and flu.
In one impressive double-blind study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 1995, recovery for flu sufferers taking an extract of black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) was more than twice as fast as recovery for those who didn't take the extract. More than 93 percent of the participants taking the elderberry extract demonstrated a reduction of flu symptoms after only two days, and 90 percent actually recovered in only three days. The majority (92 percent) of those in the group taking a placebo, however, suffered for more than six days before showing any signs of improvement. Another similar study published in the Journal of International Medical Research in 2004 demonstrated that the same elderberry extract shortened the illness by an average of four days.
Elderberry contains powerful antioxidants and flavonoids which boost the immune system and protect cells from viral invasions. It's been a popular remedy since the days of the Greeks. In fact, Hippocrates — the father of modern medicine-promoted elderberry as an all — around tonic. You can find the herb easily in the vitamin/herb section of supermarkets and drugstores.